Allotments

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 13:14

Plants have a wonderful way of telling us that the seasons are shifting.

As the light and temperatures decline, our cucumbers, sweetcorn and beans are coming to an end, while the leeks, celeriac and kale are starting to look wonderful and gearing up for their first harvest.

Eves Hill Veg Co brought in the first of the winter squash in last week: Uchiki Kuri, a wonderful Japanese orange squash that is now curing in our polytunnel (hardening the skin for keeping quality).

We hope to bring the rest of our squash in on Saturday 30 September at our open day/community day.

Even the salads signal season change, with chard and parsley making way for Asian greens, such as mizuna, mibuna, “green in snow”, namenia, giant red mustard and, soon, rocket and watercress.

We’re feeling even more inspired by these wonderful subtle and spicy flavours as a copy of Joy Larkcom’s memoir Vegetating arrived with us last month, outlining her adventures in bringing new crops back to the UK from all over the world in the late 1970s with her family in tow.

Without her we’d be eating iceberg lettuce and turnips. As passionate vegetable growers, her legacy feeds our brains, hands and stomachs.

Speaking of salads, we are grateful to one of our new customers, who last week sent us this response to her first veg bag: “You have performed a miracle; my two-year-old has been eating salad all week and asking for more!”

We now have a pickup point for the veg bags in Cawston, as well as Booton, Aylsham and Erpingham. Large veg bags are £10 and small veg bags are £6, harvested to order every Thursday.

We are also proud to announce that we have just been awarded a small National Lottery Awards For All grant to support our work.

The money will mean we can focus on developing our business model and active research. This will include our production model and looking at where we will be taking our social outcomes side of our work.

This Saturday (30 Saturday) is our monthly open day when from 10 am – 2 pm we will be available to show you round and/or rope you into helping with the squash harvest and weeding the leeks.

Stop by and say hello, and send your friends along who are interested to know more about the veg bags or volunteering.

From 2–4 pm we will be welcoming the No Fear Gardening group from Norwich, which actively supports new and old gardeners to visit gardens and learn together.

We will be doing more of an in-depth gardeners’ tour (donation £2.50), with information about techniques that we use, such as no-dig and cut-and-come again salad, alongside the principles of being a community enterprise. RSVP by email.

Hannah Claxton 07876 354363 or email

  • Eves Hill Veg Co is located 1 mile south of Reepham on the Norwich Road. Look out for the big black barns and entrance to Eves Hill Farm, right by the “hidden dip” signs. Volunteer days are every Wednesday 10 am – 4 pm. No experience necessary. Bring lunch. Stay for an hour or two or join us for the whole day.

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 20:45

As all fears of frost fade and we begin summer proper, windowsills and cold frames can finally be emptied of, and the allotment filled with, all those seedlings and cuttings.

If the dry weather continues, it’s vital to not just puddle them in, but also to keep them watered during the first weeks while they get their roots down.

Both the bigger allotment sites in Reepham have had trouble with potato blight, which also affects tomatoes, so I don’t grow mine outside directly in the ground.

Growing them in a greenhouse helps protect them from blight as well as giving them the warmth they love, but since I don’t have a greenhouse on my half-plot, I grow mine at home in pots in a sunny corner, instead.

Home-grown tomatoes, straight from the vine, are sweeter than any you’ll find in the shops.

I understand that Stoney Lane has been having problems with dogs doing their business on allotment site.

If the gate is left open, dogs being walked on Marriott’s Way can run through before their owners can stop them, stressing the chickens and leaving mess behind them. If everyone remembers to keep the gate shut, hopefully the problem should cease.

It’s not too late to sow courgettes and cucumbers for a late summer crop since they look for warmth rather than increasing daylight to produce flowers and fruits.

Succession sowing of peas, French beans, beetroot and salad ensures a continuous harvest rather than a glut, but do water the soil before sowing to give your crops the best possible start.

Meanwhile, as the asparagus season ends in June, the broad bean season has just begun, herbs are producing fragrant foliage, and roses and other cutting flowers are blooming.

And as I pick sun-ripened strawberries, I always share any over-ripe or slug-nibbled fruit with some pretty excited hens.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk, Reepham Town Hall, Church Street, Reepham, Norfolk NR10 4JW. Tel: 01603 873355 or email. For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment postbox.

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 17:36

I might like to think of May as the start of summer, but I’ve also seen May bank holidays ruined by gales and heavy rain, and even a late cold snap.

So it’s worth ensuring broad bean plants are supported in case of strong winds and that potatoes are earthed up to protect new shoots from frost damage.

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, the less hardy seedlings can be planted out, including sweet peas and climbing beans.

I’m recycling some sycamore poles to make wigwams this year, which will hopefully be sturdy enough to withstand both the weight of the growing plants and the Norfolk winds.

I’ll also be making sure the soil is warmed through before I plant out. No seedling likes to be plunged into cold soil and runner beans in particular sulk horribly if you do so.

May is also the month of the Chelsea Flower Show, where vegetable gardens have had a bit of a renaissance.

A few years ago, one featured a raised strawberry bed that used gravel instead of straw as the mulch. As well as protecting them from slugs and rot, the gravel reflected the heat and helped the berries to ripen. I may give the idea a try.

There are a few empty plots at the allotments this year, so if you fancy giving allotment gardening a go, have a word with the town clerk, Jo Boxall.

Most plots have raspberry canes and whoever takes over the empty plot next to mine will inherit some magnificent artichoke plants, too.

Fellow allotmenteers often have extra seedlings to help you get started, and the annual cost of a half plot is less than £1 a week, with exercise, fresh air and sunshine included for free.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk 01603 873355 or email
  • For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment post box.